Audi SQ5

The 2017 Audi Q5 is offered in four trims: 2.0 Premium, 2.0 Premium Plus, 3.0 Premium Plus, and 3.0 Prestige. The two engines offered are a 220-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder, or a supercharged 272-horsepower 3.0L V6. Both engines are mated to an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, and both are connected to Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system, which sends about 60 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels under most driving conditions. When slippery surfaces are detected, or when more stability is needed, the system is able to reapportion torque as needed.

With car-like underpinnings adapted from the Audi A4 sport sedan, the Q5 drives and handles much like that car, despite its relatively tall cabin. The Q5 is quite compact on the outside -- it's about as easy to park as a compact sedan -- yet there's a lot of passenger space within. Nice, supportive front seats afford a great view out, with a center console that has an adjustable armrest up top, while there's a surprising amount of legroom in back. The back seats in the Q5 slide fore and aft to balance the amount of cargo space and legroom, while the seatbacks recline; the seats also fold forward to allow a large cargo space or, when up, there's still a pass-through for long objects. The Q5's long wheelbase, in addition to helping maximize passenger space, also helps improve ride quality.

The Audi Q5 offers a long list of safety features that includes electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes and hill descent control, with a special off-road mode for the electronics that allows a little more slip. The stability control system in the Q5 will recognize when the roof rack is loaded and adjust accordingly. Front side thorax bags, along with head-curtain side bags for both rows are all standard. Rear side-thorax bags are available.

Leather upholstery is standard on the Q5, along with 19-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, a power tailgate, xenon headlights, power front seats, telescopic steering, keyless entry with an alarm, 3-zone climate control, a trip computer and a hard cargo cover along with cargo nets. The sound system standard on the base model is a 10-speaker, 180-watt system including Sirius Satellite Radio, an auxiliary input and an SD card slot, while Bluetooth, an iPod interface and navigation with Audi connect are optional.

Premium Plus models add heated front seats with driver memory, heated folding mirrors and LED running lamps. The Premium Plus offers, as options, a hard-drive-based navigation system that accepts voice prompts and includes a rearview camera and HD radio and an amazing 14-speaker, 505-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system. The Technology Package for this trim includes navigation and Audi side assist, while a Luxury Package is also available, with extended leather trim.

The top Prestige trim is only offered with 3.0L V6. It brings a host of high-end luxury and tech features including heated washer nozzles, a 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters, Audi drive select, and adaptive cruise control, plus Audi Side Assist and a heated/cooled cup holder.

A Technology Package adds things like the Bang & Olufsen sound system, MMI navigation plus, Audi connect, and parking system plus with a rearview camera. The Luxury Package adds items like perforated and ventilated Milano leather seats, while the Black Optic Package features 20-inch wheels, a 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel with paddle shifters and black exterior accents. Adaptive damping suspension and rear side airbags are standalone options.

The SQ5 is Audi's high-performance version of the Q5. Offered in both Premium Plus and Prestige trims, it features a 354-horsepower version of the V6 available in the Q5. Audi has tuned the suspension on the SQ5 to be lower, stiffer and better handling, while unique interior features such as a flat-bottomed steering wheel remind drivers that they're driving something very special. Dynamic steering is also standard.

Editors' Review

The Audi SQ5 sure sounds sweet on paper. It has 88 more horsepower than the standard Q5, complemented by an additional 96 pound-feet of torque. The SQ5 will even do the 0-to-60-mph jaunt a full second quicker than its less-powerful sibling. But honestly, you'd never know.

For all the things the SQ5 does well, it has a major deficiency in one key area: drama. It's a problem that isn't unique to the SQ5; many of Audi's sporty models are simply too buttoned-up for their own good. But this lack of visceral excitement seems particularly egregious in the SQ5. And that's a shame, because objectively speaking, this compact luxury crossover is really good.

The SQ5's 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 makes 349 hp and 369 lb-ft -- pretty big increases over the standard Q5's 2.0-liter I4. Audi says the SQ5 will hit 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, which is just as quick as its two main competitors, the BMW X3 M40i and Mercedes-AMG GLC43. The issue is that the V6 offers next to nothing in the way of aural accompaniment. There's no hearty engine note, no raspy exhaust. There's no real turbo punch, either, just a precise and linear application of thrust. The SQ5 is powerful, but everything is so smooth and predictable, it doesn't feel powerful.

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The Good ~ Smooth and comfortable ride ~ Great infotainment tech ~ Quiet, comfortable cabin

The Bad ~ Turbo engine needs more soul ~ Less cargo space than competitors

The Bottom Line The Audi SQ5 excels at its core competencies, but lacks an emotional draw.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 7.5
  • Features 8
  • Design 8
  • Media 9

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